A council's planning committee has recommended proposals to build a new Mosque on land just off a major motorway junction be refused.

At a meeting on Thursday of Preston City Council's planning committee, officers recommended the proposal be refused based on the grounds that the development is not the type of development deemed permissible in open countryside.

The site for the proposed Mosque is at the western end of D’Urton Lane on the northern edge of Preston close to junction 32 of the M55.

Earlier in the year the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) launched a competition for a team of talented designers to create a brand new landmark place of worship on the site, which has been cut off by the recent completion of the Broughton bypass alongside the junction of the M55 and M6 and sits in a particularly prominent and elevated location.

Planning officers stated that the land to be built on is located in the open countryside and the proposed development would be 'contrary to the hierarchy of locations for focussing growth and investment at urban, brownfield and allocated sites, within key service centres and other defined places'.

They also noted that it fails to accord with the management of growth and investment set out in the Central Lancashire Core Strategy.

Talented architects sought to create 'bold' designs for brand new Mosque in heart of Lancashire

A report from Thursday's meeting stated: "The proposed development is not the type of development deemed permissible in the open countryside under the Preston Local Plan 2012-2026 hence the loss of open countryside for the development proposed is contrary to that policy.

"The proposed development is contrary to the spatial strategy set out in the Central Lancashire Core Strategy and the Preston Local Plan 2012-26."

The committee said the significant shortfall in parking spaces would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety, and the efficient and convenient movement of all highway users would be prejudiced contrary to the Preston Local Plan 2012-26.

They also noted that due to the absence of matters of appearance, scale, and layout, it would not be possible to assess the level of harm to the setting of the nearby listed buildings, one of which is grade II, which would be affected by the proposed development.

The report went on to state: "In considering the potential harm to the setting of the listed buildings, and having regard to the duty imposed by the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990 to the desirability of preserving the listed buildings or their setting, the application fails to demonstrate that the proposed development would preserve the setting of the nearby listing buildings and there is no certainty that harm would not occur.

"The proposed is contrary to Policy 16 of the Core Strategy, Policy EN8 of the Preston Local Plan 2012-26 (Site Allocations and Development Management Policies) and the Framework."

A consultation on the proposals returned no objections from County Highways, Highways England and Waste Management, as well as Friends of the Guild Wheel.

United Utilities said the proposal was acceptable in principle however, there was not sufficient information on the detail of the drainage design, while Environmental Health recommended conditions requiring the submission of a noise impact assessment, details of hours of opening, electric vehicle charging points and a Construction Environmental Management Plan.

In objection to the proposals, Broughton Parish Council raised several matters which included the following:

  • Local residents have not expressed a need for a local mosque or any other type of place of worship
  • Proposal does not comply with Policy NE2 of the Broughton Neighbourhood Development Plan as the proposal seeks to minimise landscaping to make the development prominent and visual
  • The development must not have a detrimental impact on the Guild Wheel in compliance with Policy CF1 and work to achieve this must be completed prior to development commencing
  • Narrow access with poor sight line of site
  • Current slope is too steep for wheelchairs and there is no other pedestrian access, the entry road slope should be reduced or incorporate bends to mitigate any issues for drivers
  • The disability access issue needs to be addressed
  • Concerns raised over the number of proposed parking spaces
  • The suggestion to share the parish church car park on Fridays will be raised with the St John Baptist Church Council
  • Proposal would cause congestion
  • The development will be visible from the motorways and junction
  • Drivers on the motorway will be distracted
  • The site has drainage issues, and the drainage report does not address these in sufficient detail to see what mitigation measures will be in place.

The RT Hon Ben Wallace MP also objected to the application, raising concerns about the level of traffic using D’Urton Lane; fears for the impact on the Guild Wheel cycle route; the visual impact of the new building; the impact of the new building on the nearby listed St John’s Church; and the site being located within open countryside, so the application is contrary to the policies of the Local Plan.

The proposals also received 427 letters of objection from the public, with 625 letters of support.

However the report concluded: "Statutory consultee comments and a significant number of representations have been received who have both objected to and supported the proposal, all of the comments have been carefully considered and taken into account as part of this planning application. 

"Recommendation refusal."